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Henry Gallagher Education. (2012) 'James Meredith and the Ole Miss Riot A Soldier's Story.'

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Us 10, James Meredith 6, Memphis 5, Washington 4, Marco Rubio 3, Vietnam 3, U.s. 3, Yankees 2, Pentagon 2, Lyceum 2, U.n. 2, Jackson 2, Navy 2, Henry Gallagher 2, Gerald 2, Georgia 2, Vicksburg 2, Baratunde Thurston 2, Cuba 2, Ole Miss. 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Henry Gallagher  Education.  (2012) 'James  
   Meredith and the Ole Miss Riot A Soldier's Story.'  

    January 1, 2013
    12:00 - 12:45pm EST  

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come in between, it's all i think about right now. i want to be one of those makers and not takers. >> baratunde thurston, how has having a black president protected your work? >> it gives me one other job which is great. you can add that to the list of like thug and athlete and sassy black president and the one particular job. it is just a fun and a proud image. and also some criticism and challenges of president obama as a symbol of the massive racial progress that is often overstated so it makes to the argument more complicated when they say our work is finished as america in the great racial project of the equal opportunities. so having a black president is a short cut to avoiding the typical conversations and work that we still have to do as a nation. great progress is achieved but
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there is more to go. so obama is quite a challenging figure and in that sense we have done more than we really ever have. >> baratunde thurston, "how to be black" is the name of the book and this is book tv on c-span2. next on book tv, henry gallagher recalls his assignment as officer in charge of the security detail for james meredith, the first african-american admitted to the university of mississippi in september of 1962. this is about 40 minutes. >> thank you ralph and john andd mmy gratitude to the library ot congresshe for hosting the even. i will try to put into 30 whnutes what happened to me 50 years ago with some reflection.h this is my tentative book event since the book was published in september and each event is different and each audience is
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different and your questions are different. i was a 233-year-old arra tc second lieutenant from a small liberal arts college in minnesota, sat down to mississippi along with 15 or 19,000 other soldiers to quell the right to put down the right. i was not aware of where we were going because the kennedy administration that put a clamp on public disclosure. it's not until we got to memphis that we were aware of our mission. it was such a delicate, uncomfortable effort. u.s. military and it was a military oftentimes i say i'm army out of place. the military police had the mission sometimes to put down domestic disturbances that they occurred once every 100 years assumptive to that effect, clearly not the mission of the 82nd airborne are the 101st or even the marine corps who were present that morning. 19,000 troops. two units had prepared, had been
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given advance notice as to what they were doing and they prepared for it in riot control. why all of this for one african-american student who wanted to get an education? it's a brand name university. it's because the whole state was an insurrection from the government to to the statehouse itself statehouse itself down to the 11-year-old who were throwing bricks at us in the streets. it was total chaos, a little mayhem and even the mississippi highway patrol had pulled away so there was your insurrection. it lasted two or three days. the violent part of it and then after that i was appointed to be the security officer for james meredith and went to school with him, or he went to school and i stayed outside with a hand-picked patrol, 12 soldiers and we were there throughout the year. we transferred back and forth in the army was in place for almost a year until he graduated in august of 1963.
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i was 23 years old. i grew up in an all all-white neighborhood in south minneapolis. johnson, swanson, peterson and bergstrom and a few italians but that was pretty much it. it was an eye-opener for me but again, we were trained and i am so proud of what the army did. when you write a book, this was my first, the publisher has to say on what the title should be. i call the mississippi morning is when we woke up it was 6:00 in the morning and teargas had passed. the sun had come up and it looked like any other small town. it was also an awakening of a culture. the university of mississippi would never go back to its old days. the book is not about james meredith. so often book titles, subtitle carries a story and it is a soldier story. and army out of place, yes but again they did their job.
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i saw pieces of violence after that first morning but then we moved into a somewhat boredom, boredom to the point that even he himself, james meredith and eccentric character but a brave character, sort of chafed at being guarded as we regard him. now not moving him around from point to point as we were advised by john dower, my iconic civil rights hero in the civil rights division and nicholas katzanbach. he was to have as much freedom as any other student. well, yes but at the same time there were deer hunters and it was the season and we had -- we were constantly aware of who might come up onto the campus, didn't look like a student, had a bent mind in a deer rifle and we had to be constantly aware of that kind of threat to his life. he was a brave person. i was sitting in his dormitory
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room for the first couple of days reading the hate mail, the death threats and very detail. james, we know where you live, we know where your parents are. we are going to kill you. we are going to kill your twins. i looked at james and i saidsaid, have you read this one? he looked back at me and he said lieutenent, i'm late for my spanish class, let's go. that bravery stayed with him in that courage stayed with him throughout my association with him. he never blinked. the students going. i should say that 99% of the student body went about their way getting an education. they cared little about him being on the campus. for them it may have been an annoyance. we were the annoyance for the students. there were a handful of students who would know everywhere he went, every corner. go back to africa, we are going to get you, we are going to get to get u.n. that stayed on through october and november.
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but is lessened when i came back in the spring. the racial attitudes are still there and it always reminded me, he was in just the students yelling out, it was their parents and their grandparents, the legacy of the separation of races in that state. it was fair to a certain extent and it's there now. 50 years later we have an african-american president and the night he was reelected there is a disturbance on the campus. so many of the headlines the next morning said racial protest that ole miss. well it was not. it was a group of students who didn't like the results of the election but just a handful of them were throwing out racial slurs and screaming. that has to be in context. there is an expression mississippi was, mississippi is. it means they have changed. they have a change in a way that
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a lot of northern press was not aware of and probably are not aware of now. the army had been, thank you harry truman, there may have been disaggregated to the point by the time i got in 1962 it was flattened out. there may have been racism in the barracks and a tense but it was not out in the open. alabama psc, black officers took orders from black sergeants. once we left, the comfort of the army base and opposed as we moved south, it was a different culture that we got into and of course it was a freeze frame, photograph, a snapshot of racism that we saw that first morning while we we were there. so, kudos to the military. they did a good job. my driver one time asked me,
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lieutenent, what are we doing? this was late november. he is still alive isn't he? the only way i can respond to that is, to a direct question but that answer to that question was enriched 50 years later. i was in jackson mississippi earlier last month on the fifth of the sixth book event, downtown jackson, middle-class mixed-race african-american and white audience, maybe 30 or 40. i'd told them the arc of my story and then we went into a question and answer period for 20 or 30 minutes. a little bit of a the larger room than this here. an african-american woman in the second row back, knew she wanted to say something and i wound down and i said are there any more questions? she shot her hand up and she said yes, i want to say something and i don't know how i can say it. i said i think i have enough nerve to say but it but i want to thank you for coming.
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i didn't know if she meant that morning or 50 years ago. she said let me tell you my story. i was growing up in vicksburg and daddy told us that night to stay in the house and stay away from the windows. there is trouble out on the street. it was not a good time for blacks in vicksburg and it was not a good time for blacks to be in the state of mississippi. that weekend, i had faith in only two things, god and the united states army. that moment, i grabbed the podium and she started tearing up. as i tried to respond, i started tearing up and there was obviously approval throughout the audience. so she stood up and pointed her finger at me and she said thank you for coming. i came over here 50 years later to say that and she sat down. the book tour, i have a
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university press, they don't pay advances. i go to hotels and pay for the airfare and paper the hotel and everything. i want to get the message out and get young people to know what happened 50 years ago but that poignant moment answer the question that my driver asked me 50 years earlier. are we doing any good down here? so, i will never forget that moment. putting a book together like this 50 years later, it is in the first person because i wanted the reader to not only be with me but the ahead of where the protagonist is. protagonist did not know where he was going. we were not told. the reader now has some idea what was happening. not until our planes arrived in memphis that next morning to an airport, an air force base or a
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navy base that had more landings i think that o'hare airport had that morning. it was busy. kennedy administration did not want to lose out on this one. anyway, when you are pointed pointed to pointed to be security officers which in its situation keep notes. you keep notes and telephone numbers, license plates, names of people or today we call them persons of interest. people who didn't look like students. every night i had to report to the fbi for anyone who might've come into -- checked into a hotel who didn't look like he belongs there. so i kept those notes and i looked at them over the years. i started this book 10 years ago. i started talking to people who were in my unit and they provided me with anecdotes. i looked over old newspapers, looked over old magazines. started piecing things together. ken burns says, look at a photograph on and off.
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the photograph comes to life. the person that had the life before the snapshot will have a life after it and you begin to again, put things together so a few take a photograph of some of the buddies at the camp, you start trying to retrace your steps. so that is what became the life and i connected all the dots. i had a lot of support. some of you in the room here, to keep pushing this thing. if i don't sign books after this event if i don't have the finale or inscription for you, i will put down, once you are done reading this book please pass it on to a young person. again, this happened 50 years ago but it happened yesterday morning. racism is still there and it's still a mississippi and still in our society but they have made great strides. governor winters, institute of racial reconciliation, bringing
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books, bringing speakers to the university of mississippi. i brought myself a few people down and mark shields went down with me three years ago and he had an interesting comment. he said you know, the northern liberal looked at the civil rights movement as a laudable movement until the movement started moving north and then the texture of the comments change. that is pretty much my story. i don't want to tell you the story. i want you to buy the book so i can pay some of those airfares and hotel bills. but again, it's something i want young people today to know about. racism is still there, but the army played a significant role 50 years ago and i will never forget what that woman told me. thank you for coming. [applause]
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any questions, please? >> i was going to ask this question a little later and it's the same question is what i asked you in vietnam when he served there in the late 60's. never knowing that this chapter in your life and you gave me a pretty nuanced answer. there are many shades of gray in vietnam, whether black or white, and i learned a lot from you. i never knew the whole time that you had done this as a young man, so i salute you and i thank you for being a mentor, trying to answer that question many years later and i admire you greatly. >> thank you, thank you. [applause] the gentleman in front.
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>> i'm wondering two things. one, why you decided to do this book so much later and two, if you have any specific training in the army in this kind of duty before he went down there or were you kind of winging its? >> it's ecowas write the book. i have a lot practiced in washington for many years. i felt ultimately that i would put it together and piece it together. a magazine article and it expanded and it became what it is right now. always in my mind, i want young people to know. i want young people to know the this happened and so it took a while. my brother is a writer in new york and he was my editor for a while. i fired him three times, and i went back with the help of my wife, back into my first year of legal research because i had to certify, authorize this piece of nonfiction. i felt with a memoir you could
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just wing it you can't because once you start highlighting things you've got to get authority for it. you even have to get consent from the people that you put photographs and. i had a letter from james meredith right after i left, which is in the book itself and i wanted to put that in. my wife reminded me, we need his permission. i don't need his permission. he sent it to me that he didn't send us the world. i send a form letter to jackson mississippi and he signed it on the backside of the envelope, it's about time you got your book out 50 years later. so it took a long time. yeah, it did take longer than i thought it would but again piecing things together, "u.s. news and world report"'s, "life" magazine, look magazine, all those helped me support my story and the story again again of a
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protagonist who didn't know what was going on but i put notes in the book so the reader knows what's going on. this 23-year-old second lieutenant hasn't a clue until we get to mississippi and memphis. your second question, i'm sorry? training. military police are trained, p.o.w. for prisoner control. prisoners, foreign prisoners of war are all people taking them back to the jails and court appearances but never body guarding someone. so we had no starter kit. we just winged it those first couple of days. mistakes are made. you keep looking at meredith and not at the second story, not at a window. you keep thinking like a mother watching her child go forward on the street and you keep looking, well that's the wrong thing. you don't look at your charge.
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you look at who might bring harm to the charge and it's instinctive. you look at a crowded look at who is looking looking at us? why are they looking at us? are they planning on what our schedule is? are they moving around depending on where we go or are they looking at is just out of curiosity? they want to be there, it's a piece of history. so again, it was on-the-job training. has anyone in the audience served in the military? please, your hands? so few of us left these days. just throw a second lieutenant into the pool and if he survives he survives and if not, bring down another one. they are expendable. i picked military policemen who are veterans and have some degree, i felt some degree of performance and professional self-control. self-restraint. no trigger-happy, no can't state
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incidences. this was an important event in the eyes of the world around me. luckily, i pick the right ones and an event in memphis the night before, we were separated by the blacks. the blacks had to step back. the night before when out of the gate in mississippi candidate be in the stray shin in the army felt that the situation on the campus was so incendiary that the snipers would have been picking out blacks coming in their army units but it was a poignant moment. 1962, blacks have found a home in the army. a large part of our leadership noncommissioned officers were african-american. when captain was a black officer. said that, shamed, couldn't go to mississippi with us.
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by wednesday of that day meredith looked at me and said lieutenent wear your black soldiers? you surely must have some. i sent that line up to the command and they brought the black soldiers. but i picked people in the patrol who hadn't least some common sense and experience but we never had a bodyguard experience in that sense, to answer your question. please, sir? >> has anybody who participated in the riots ever expressed any sense of embarrassment? >> embarrassment? >> yeah. >> i did not have enough time to finish what i wanted to do. i wanted to have an appendix in the back of my book. i put ads in the mississippi newspaper, so neutral. my name is so-and-so and i'm writing a book. i was sent down to mississippi in 1962 by the army, and i thought if there was a lot of emotion on the other side of
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this issue, i would like to talk to someone. i would like to put your remarks in my book. i didn't have enough time. i got no response from that ad by the way but had i gone further, gone into alabama and georgia, sure, probably would have come up with something. i'm trained as a lawyer's 2002 questions. sir, sir, i don't care but your racist tendencies or your segregation at the time but give me the story. to answer your question few people have come forward. in a public forum at least and express their views and whether they have change their views are not. a lot of them have not. i would have wanted to have them interview as well. it would have helped out in the end of my book in the appendix. in have i spoken from time to time? >> yes. he has gone a different
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direction. he is an interesting character. he has written a book this last summer, sort of revisiting why he did what he did. maam? >> i just want to thank you for writing this book. i commend you for writing this book. i think so often we focus on the horrible things that happen which are important to share but i think it's also important for people who actually did something to share their stories as well. my parents were -- i family lived in alabama for a generation and my godfather was one of the department of justice employees for the students and i grew up hearing their story. i very rarely hear in a public forum and individual, just an ordinary citizen talking about what they did and i think it's important to share those stories so that we can know that you can
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do something, and you can make a difference. and you can inform the public discourse, not just how tail to the people who are the majority and who are -- negatively. my question is, do you know an effort going on to collect the stories of people, just ordinary people who were involved and did something? beasher. 10 years ago, there was an old history project for those who returned to ole miss and they were marshals, soldiers, students, faculty. i think a repository of that written word is on the campus at the university of mississippi and researchers are probably clearly at hand for them to go through and do that. let me comment a little bit about what does get the news and
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what doesn't get the news. my first event was here in washington two months ago actat, of all places, a -- [inaudible] and i felt strange going into the room. round. i did talk about my story, and one man was agitated to the point that i threw a point of humor in there and he did not like it. he said i tell you, was down there is a lawyer working with radio station in jackson and the blacks and whites trying to reach some sort of meeting point and this was the first i had heard of this. now of course, my mission that month was not reaching out to blacks and whites on the radio station in jackson. we had the bad guys to go after but unfortunately those kinds of events don't get the publicity that they should. right-minded people, well minded people see some accommodation.
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not unlike what happened three or four weeks ago on the election night at ole miss. one newspaper reporter called it a race riot, a racist riot, occurring. it was not that. anti-obama, pro-romney students came out onto the campus and demonstrated. it's their right. they can do that against a result of an election and a handful of students were screaming out racial slurs. putting that in context, the next day three times that amount of people showed up for a candlelight ceremony protesting the incident of the night before. so mississippi was, mississippi is, is moving on. but yes you are right. there is more and more they should come out and talk about
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it. so you get a balanced picture. their view of the south may not be the correct one today. it's not just a bunch of rioters throwing bricks. thank you. >> henry, could you talk a little more about the special security details that you had following your initial -- and i would assume -- you are chosen for that. did you know why you were chosen for that? >> yeah, thank you. i was the lead in my battalion from ft. dix new jersey, to go down to oxford. we were not prepared. i had to -- my colonel looked at me and he said, do your best. this was after i asked about a
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map. armies have maps. they have maps of central europe. they have a map of the park benches and a fire hydrant. we did not have a map. do your best, he said. i looked up and my brother was an enlisted man in the army and he said, whatever you do as a second lieutenant, don't show indecision. just make in order and make a decision and move with it. so i grabbed my driver and radio operator in a looked out across one of president eisenhower's new interstates going alongside it and i saw phillips 66 gas station. there is the rest of the story. i grabbed him and went over and walked in full battle gear, gas mask, pistol and everything else up into this midnight on the midnight shift filling station operator. can i have a map of? you know, when the shows an edge
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of memphis appear? he jumped off of his stool, scattered around behind the counter and gave me a map and out the door i went. that was preparation number one. we did at least have the map and the lead jeep for 640 military policeman, 140 vehicles, the driver and elite jeep and the lieutenant have a map. crossing into the base, i notice that there was a shore patrolman working the midnight shift at the gate. no one was coming in. a few cars were coming in and i told my driver, ron, stop. let's ask the this guy how to get down to mississippi. he put the map out on the hood any of the flashlight. yes sir go down to this lighting get to this dateline and take highway 78 and you are going to get it. i get back in the jeep and one of those things hits you. i gave him a name of gerald. i did not know his name. i hope he reads this book or his
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grandchildren read the book and let him know. i went back to him and they said, gerald, look, we are just a bunch of yankee's from the north. i know you were navy and i'm army that you have got to help us out. yes, sir. i will show you again. no, don't show me. gerald, you you're coming with us. his eyes popped out and he said sir, i can do that. i will be awol. besides you are army and i maybe. gerald, the voice of my brother, just make a decision, get him t -- get into the jeep under military police if nothing else are trained to nudge. my driver was bigger than gerald and was nudged into the back of my jeep. he raced back into the base at 140 vehicles, the headlights looking at me ready to grab the gates. i had mixed emotions. i had more assurance and more
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insurance about how to go about it but i also felt i had kidnapped somebody. five minutes later, 20 minutes later we went out the gate to mississippi. and down the road, met some resistance. tennessee highway patrol was to the state line, i thought a big sign, welcome to the magnolia state. i was looking around for mississippi highway patrol. they were going to pick us up and take us there. did not know until six hours later that they had totally blocked off their duties, totally left the state of mississippi, further insurrection, cleared the campus. we made our way down a two lane highway, ultimately reported to a general officer and when you are a second lieutenant in the military barely show up reporting to a lieutenant colonel and here was a general officer, a star on each shoulder and he said lt. i want you to
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take a platoon of soldiers down to the lyceum and put out the rise units that have been there already and go downtown. i didn't want to ask him anything. and chief executive officer giving a low employee and order. you don't say excuse me, may i ask a few questions? you don't do that. you just hope the executive secretary is working out in the hallway and continue a little about the order you have been given. i said yes, sir and out the door of this little airport,. as i am walking back, a major came back and provided all the details. the lyceum, i didn't even know what a lyceum was. turned out to be the major administration building for the university. i went through a series -- i was on a real con of three gee
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trying to get to the battalion, we got lost and hit by riders, made my way back, went back through this backyard of this lady who was by then standing out screaming at us all. i had gone through her back yard with my convoy, made it to the convoy, got orders from the general and ready to go back to the campus, but i wanted to retrace my steps and i did, retraced my steps through that lady's yard, stood on connecticut avenue one time trying to measure how long it takes for 140 "james meredith and the old miss riot: a soldier's story" -- vehicles to pass one point going fifteen miles an hour. it probably took an hour for the battalion, yankees from new jersey to arrive through that old lady's backyard. a few minutes later, maybe an hour later, i had gone over to
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where the armory was and the colonel came out and said you are going to be security officer for james meredith. so i hand-picked the best i could find, sharpshooters, self control, we were not to be too close to meredith. thirty-second, my radio, i have often said we could only catch the killer, we really couldn't prevent harm to him because again he was allowed to freely walk across the campus back and forth so that -- it was called the peanut patrol, hardly something of ferocious like bear or tiger or this or that but a person came by with first aid and said what you going to call your patrol? you have to have a name for it for radio purposes. province callers 1961 was reading a peanuts cartoon from the local newspaper and said call yourselves the peanut patrol, and that was it.
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a week later the cuban missile crisis occurred, swept everything else off of the news and i read a telegram from the pentagon that my unit would be deployed at a certain embarkation point along with the 80 second airborne, but the repeated patrol would stand and become part of the pentagon lower. along convoluted answer to your question but that was it. >> the fact that you selected your particular team and going on to work on disasters around the world after a time in vietnam with the u.s. military and the un, ever seen a situation where the u.n. commander gets to pick the right people so you did the campaign.
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>> i did. the first sergeant, you say i listened to my assignment, please select -- they knew more than i did about their own men and i had a whole battalion. we were able to get some pretty good people. generally they did their duty. nobody lost their cool. we had one or two close incidents thereafter in front of the cafeteria. i found out they hated the deputy marshals, civilians running around in blue suits, they had a regard for us because we wore a uniform. part of the tradition of the south, patriotism first. they didn't give us too much trouble but once in a while they did. the book is dedicated to my battalion members because they were an army out of place and they performed so well.
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>> not sure that would be the case today. if the patrol were formed today somebody would say the following individuals will go down under henry gallagher. someone behind the desk will decide that, the same kind of dirty dozen -- that is the weakness. >> they would be qualified. >> i don't have a question but a comment. i grew up in pennsylvania in conservative lancaster county but was living in gulfport mississippi at the time of this incident. i learned in mississippi that i was the yankee and do was not a complimentary term. i never thought of it being applied to me before, living in the north i never thought about being at yankee. we didn't talk out loud very much because our accent's would have displayed s as yankees and
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the tension was tremendous so we just kept a very low profile. i listened and it was a horrible time. >> if you have anyone seen the movie help or read the book, that reflects and shows the culture at the time. president kennedy said why mississippi of all places? why couldn't it be georgia which had a little bit of a liberal tradition, maybe alabama. the deepest of the deep south states, mississippi. james meredith was not picked by committee. he just wanted to go to school. later on the army caught up with what he was doing as the administration caught up. who is this guy? what is he doing? we had to play catch up. very brave guy.
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i was in a cocoon those six months i spent down there. i didn't have a chance to go off campus and talk with the locals and see that and there is the william faulkner square, the middle of oxford, south segregation, whites at the other end. i didn't know if it still happens that way but if you were an african-american in 1962 with business on the square you better be about your business quickly. go to the bank. no loitering, no hanging around talking to each other, get your job done and move on, try on a half in nielsen's department store, it was your hat, you bought it. that kind of a culture. when the army has this kind of an assignment, humor breaks down every time and thank god for the
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army humorous -- time in the front of a bus. i am in mississippi. daily that kind of survival humor if you will because it was boring. except for the first moments of tension during the riots and tension later on when he would be moving class to class and we would spot a car that should not be there, but other than that there was a lot of flak time and a lot of boredom and thank god for tumor. one new york her said i wish that mississippi should really be like a foreign state. like canada. different license plates and cigarettes and soda pops and different stamps. this is the man who couldn't wait to get back to new jersey when the plane landed, they
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kissed the ground and he couldn't wait. i knew the nightmare was over, i talked and the loss of a word new york on the holland tunnel. thank you. [applause] >> tell us what you think about our programming this weekend. you can squeeze as at booktv, comment on our facebook wall or send an e-mail to booktv, nonfiction books every weekend on c-span2. >> man well -- emanual is a co-author of the washington post and co-author of the rise of marco rubio. what is the appeal of marco rubio? >> he is a talented or rader. even more than that, he
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represents this opportunity to see how a hispanic politician will play at the national level. a lot in the republican party and a lot of people outside the republican party will be watching and gauging to get a sense whether a latino politician can broaden his base outside his own community. >> is he running for president? >> who isn't when they get elected to the senate? he is clearly an ambitious person. he has risen very quickly and established himself in a big hurry as a consequence on major issues like immigration and there is no question that people within the political infrastructure of washington are looking to him as somebody who they would place on the shortest
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of short lifts -- lists for the next time around. >> from your research, how short listed was he for mitt romney's vp pick? >> a secret process. everyone who claims to know exactly what is going on may not know exactly what is going on. what was remarkable is that you saw mitt romney come out and say specifically that marco rubio was embedded. that is not something we see very often. i think it was a recognition from the romney campaign that they needed to reach out in some way to hispanic voters and also to republicans who are not hispanic but had become fans of this legislator who has this fascinating personal story that i write about in the book. here is somebody whose family
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stretches back to a hat in cuba and the 100 years they have a grandson of the man who was born there. now at a press the press, the very pinnacle of greatness in american politics, an extraordinary story and a lot of people within the party recognize that. >> did the senator cooperating your writing of this book? >> he did not. but fortunately dozens and dozens of other people did. about me to not only get three dimensional look at him from a little bit of a distance, but also pushed me into all of this rich source material that i was able to come across in the national archives and another places that told the story of his family's migration from cuba. a story that is

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